-08/09/14 U.S. Assistance to Burma; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
-08/09/14 U.S. Companies in Burma: Doing Business Responsibly; Office of the Spokesperson; Washington, DC
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– Domani Spero
Secretary Kerry is in New Delhi for the 5th U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue,and is accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Other members of the interagency trip include Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Francis Taylor, and NASA Associate Administrator Michael O’Brien. The State Department’s does not have a Senate-confirmed assistant secretary for its Bureau of Energy Resources. Ambassador Carlos Pascual who announced he was stepping down as special envoy and coordinator for energy affairs has been succeeded by Amos Hochstein as acting special envoy and coordinator and Mr. Hochstein is accompanying Secretary Kerry to New Delhi.
Additional details of the trip available here.
– Domani Spero
KABUL, Afghanistan — Secretary of State John Kerry spent a second day here in the Afghan capital on Saturday shuttling between the top two presidential contenders and the presidential palace in an effort to forge an agreement on how to audit recent elections and preventAfghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power from collapsing.
The two candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, spent the day inside the United States Embassy building holding separate meetings with Mr. Kerry, according to campaign officials. Mr. Kerry then traveled to the palace to talk to President Hamid Karzai. Talks were continuing into early evening without food or drink because of Ramadan, for which Muslims fast during the day. Mr. Kerry complained, jokingly, to Mr. Karzai that his embassy had “starved” him, according to pool reports.
Here are some photos from his latest Kabul trip to broker an election dispute agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.
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– Domani Spero
Secretary Kerry, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus visit the Great Wall of China prior to the U.S.-#China Strategic & Economic Dialogue. More photos here where our ambassador has, we’re told “clearly been cropped out of the photos …probably because he looks so ….so… really… a polo?”
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– Domani Spero
There was a big do in Foggy Bottom last night celebrating the 90th anniversary of the modern Foreign Service founded on May 24, 1924 when the Diplomatic and Consular Services were unified under the Rogers Act (named for Representative John Jacob Rogers of Massachusetts). Former Secretary Colin Powell and former Senator Lugar, as well as other friends of the Service were in attendance. Secretary Kerry, the 68th Secretary of State and the son of former Foreign Service officer, Richard John Kerry, delivered the remarks. Excerpt:
Ninety years ago the Foreign Service was just absolutely unrecognizable compared to what it is today. Back then we had fewer than 700 Foreign Service officers and now we have more than 13,000. Back then we had no female chiefs of mission – none. Now we have more than 40. And I’m proud to tell you that right now in this Department five out of six of our regional Assistant Secretaries are women; four out of six of our Under Secretaries are women; and we are joined tonight – since we have two Deputy Secretaries of State, 50 percent are women, and one of them is here. Heather Higginbottom, sitting right over here. So I think that’s a great record.
Back then, when it started, we had only one African American Foreign Service officer. One. A man named Clifton Wharton. I happened to know of him way back when because my dad actually worked for him way back in those early days. Now we have nearly a thousand African American Foreign Service officers following in his footsteps.
And in 1924, House Resolution 6357 passed Congress and it gave birth to the modern Foreign Service. Now to quote Rogers: “The promise of good diplomacy is the greatest protector of peace.” And our hope is that people will recognize that 90 years from that moment, that is exactly what the Foreign Service has done.
The U.S. Foreign Service has more than 90 years of history, of course. According to the State Department historian, from 1789 until 1924, the Diplomatic Service, which staffed U.S. Legations and Embassies, and the Consular Service, which was primarily responsible for promoting American commerce and assisting distressed American sailors, developed separately.
The first Act of Congress providing for U.S. consuls abroad was passed on April 14, 1792. Except for the consuls appointed to the Barbary States of North Africa (who enjoyed quasi-diplomatic status when Muslim countries did not maintain permanent missions abroad), U.S. consuls received no salary and were expected to earn their livings from private trade or from fees charged for official services. Some of these officials did not start getting paid until 1856 when Congress established a salary between $1,000 and $7,500 per year.
In 1781, we had 4 diplomatic posts and 3 consular posts. By 2010, we had 168 diplomatic and 89 consular posts. In 1781, the State Department also had 4 domestic and 10 overseas personnel. By 1940, this grew to 1,128 domestic personnel and 840 staff overseas. The largest bump in staffing occurred in the 1950s when domestic personnel expanded to 8,609 employees and the Foreign Service grew to 7,710 overseas staff. By the time the Foreign Service Act of 1980 became law, there were 3,438 Civil Service employees and 9,326 Foreign Service. When USIA was integrated into the State Department, there were 6,958 CS employees and 9,238 FS employees. The Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (DRI) in 2005 boosted the staffing numbers to 8,098 CS employees and 11,238 FS employees. In 2012, there were 13,676 FS employees of 55% of the total agency employees and 10,811 CS employes or 45% of State employees.
The question we have is what will the Foreign Service look like when it turns 100 in 2024? The DRI hires will be in senior management positions in 10 years. How will their experience help them manage a new generation of diplomats?
In the past decade, we have seen an increase in unaccompanied assignments, and in the number of male eligible family members. The number of danger posts, as well, as the number of priority posts have also expanded. A good number of junior diplomats have started their careers in war zone assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya; some more were sent to restricted assignments in Pakistan, Yemen, and various countries under civil strife. We have Diplomatic Security agents moving from one priority posting to the next priority posting; rinse that and repeat. We don’t how many PTSD cases and non-natural deaths occur among FS members but we know they exist.
These folks will all come “home” one day to a Foreign Service where some have never served in the front line states. We hope somebody at the State Department is thinking and planning for that day. Or maybe that day is already here since there is already a divide between those perceived to be conducting “real diplomacy” and those who are not; with some considering an assignment in a war zone as not being “actual diplomacy.” There are also folks annoyed that FSOs who serve in war zones get much more money and received favorable treatment on promotions.
Something is happening in the Foreign Service. What will it be like in fifty years?
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– Domani Spero
Secretary of State John Kerry salutes Ana Elena Tappan Alvarado and Arturo Montano Robles during a visit to U.S. Embassy Mexico City on May 21, 2014, in recognition of the 42 years they each have spent working at the mission.
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– Domani Spero
CNN’s Barbara Starr reports that the U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya. The violence in country appeared to be some of the worst since the 2011 revolution.
A decision to evacuate as violence in the Libyan capital grows is “minute by minute, hour by hour,” a defense official told CNN on Monday.
Four additional U.S. V-22 Osprey aircraft “arrived overnight” at the naval base in Sigonella, Italy, to join four V-22s and 200 Marines that had been moved there last week, a U.S. defense source said.
The V-22 Ospreys, which can take off and land vertically with at least two dozen passengers, are ready to be in the air on six hours notice, the official said. The additional aircraft should give the military the capability to evacuate more than 200 people from the embassy.
The aircraft and Marines are part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response team, stationed in Moron, Spain. The force was formed after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012 to provide closer standby military capability in a crisis.
On May 15, Algeria sent a team of special forces to evacuate its ambassador and some 50 embassy staff from Libya after an attempted raid on the ambassador’s residence according to Libya Herald. The Lebanese diplomats are said to have left and the UAE diplomats reportedly left the country by car to Tunisia. Today, Saudi Arabia also closed its diplomatic mission in Libya and withdrew all of its diplomatic staff due to security concerns. The Turkish Consulate in Benghazi was also closed today “after a specific threat” according to Tanju Bilgic, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli where we reportedly have about 200 personnel, the last Twitter update was on May 15 about a job opening at the PA shop. On Sunday afternoon, Ambassador Deborah Jones tweeted:
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) May 18, 2014
We are assuming that the ambassador is not in country and David C. McFarland who is posted in Tripoli through August 2014 as DCM is currently acting as charge. Mr. McFarland previously served in Cairo, Baghdad, Washington, DC, Yerevan and Ankara. But most notably, he was the Political Section chief in Tripoli during the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Stevens.
Now, here’s the interesting part –ABC News’ Ali Weinberg is reporting that the U.S. is sending a high-level official to help the political process in Libya according to a State Department official.
Ambassador David Satterfield, who also directs the international monitoring force in the Sinai Peninsula, will keep that role even as he goes to Libya.
“Secretary of State Kerry requested that Ambassador David Satterfield travel to Libya to offer to help build political consensus at this challenging time in Libya’s transition. He will continue to fulfill his duties as Director General of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO),” the official said.
It appeared that Satterfield was to get this additional assignment before the events of this weekend, in which forces loyal to retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter stormed the parliament building in Tripoli.
So Ambassador Satterfield is still seconded to MFO and how is the State Department going to task him to do things officially?
Ambassador Satterfield previously served as Ambassador to Lebanon (September 1998 to June 2001), and was confirmed as Ambassador to Jordan (2004) but never served in that capacity as he was soon designated as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs (NEA). He was also Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006. According to his Wikipedia entry, Ambassador Satterfield retired from the Foreign Service in 2009. He was nominated by the US, then appointed Director General of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula, an independent international organization, by the Arab Republic of Egypt and State of Israel, and assumed office on July 1, 2009. In August 2013, he took a leave of absence from his MFO position and was designated by Secretary Kerry to serve temporarily as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo until January this year.
He is a well respected diplomat but …. here’s what we don’t get. And apparently, we’re not the only one perplexed about this; there’s a whole floor of folks in Foggy Bottom asking each other why.
We’re not recalling our Senate-confirmed ambassador from her personal travel and sending her back to Tripoli “to help build political consensus.” We’re not giving the current DCM/charge his marching orders. Instead we’re recalling an ambassador who’s been retired since 2009 to midwife this “challenging time in Libya’s transition.” Does that make sense?
We’re hearing that Ambassador Satterfield will reportedly be a special envoy for reconciliation. Because it makes perfect sense to send a stranger to facilitate reconciliation in a country where cultivating personal relationships is needed before business is conducted. This “request” by Secretary Kerry comes in addition to apparently, the appointment of a former senior advisor for MEK Resettlement to the Libya portfolio. What about the president’s personal representative?
@Diplopundit my understanding is Satterfield is there to help specifically with Libya’s political troubles, so in add’n to ambassador.
— Ali Weinberg (@AliABCNews) May 20, 2014
No word yet if Ambassador Jones is heading back to Tripoli or if post is going on evac.
– Domani Spero Follow @Diplopundit
Secretary Kerry recently sworn-in the following top officials in Foggy Bottom:
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– Domani Spero
On April 25, the State Department announced that Secretary John Kerry will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Luanda, Angola, on April 29-May 5 “to encourage democratic development, promote respect for human rights, advance peace and security, engage with civil society and young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future, and promote trade, investment and development partnerships in Africa.”Secretary Kerry will be accompanied by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russell Feingold, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issue Catherine Russell.
Helen Meagher La Lime, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who was nominated as Ambassador to the Republic of Angola on September 2013. She has been waiting for Senate confirmation since January 15, 2014. The lengthy wait since the nomination is now approaching eight months.
Dear Congress, this is idiotic.
Hey, here’s an idea. If Congress is serious about chopping down on expenses, it could confirm Ms. La Lime for Angola, and she could hitch a ride in Secretary Kerry’s plane when he leaves tomorrow for his Africa trip.
For multiplied savings, the Senate could also confirm a host of other ambassadorial nominees for several countries in Africa who have been stuck in the confirmation chamber since January this year.
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